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Raj disagrees with Church’s request, Akbar maintains stance

January 15, 2019 5:02 pm
Education Minister Rosy Akbar, the head of the Roman Catholic Church Fiji, Archbishop Father Peter Loy Chong [left] and Human Rights and Anti- Discrimination director, Ashwin Raj.

The call for faith based schools to be led by principals of that particular faith will only descend into profiling based not only on faith but other prohibited grounds of discrimination says Human Rights and Anti- Discrimination director, Ashwin Raj.

Raj says soon, there will be calls to have schools to be led by individuals from a particular ethnic community or indeed teachers of a preferred race or religion.

His comments comes following a request by the head of the Roman Catholic Church Fiji, Archbishop Father Peter Loy Chong, that the Education Ministry consult the catholic school management on appointments of principal or head teacher.

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Raj says the right to religious orientation is not under threat because this is protected by the Constitution.

He says this gnaws at the very fabric of multiculturalism, tolerance and pluralism that our children should be encouraged to emulate and not segregation and communalism that has been the legacy of institutionalized racism and affirmative action for more than three decades.

The HRADC, last year, investigated a complaint by a high school student who was told by the principal and management of the school she was attending to look for a school that “accommodated students of her kind” because she was wearing a headscarf which is consistent with her faith but deemed contrary to the dress code of the school.

According to Raj the inclusion of “faith” into the Open Merit Recruitment and Selection policy is not only problematic because “faith” is arbitrary and subjective in nature but its inclusion will only give credence to discrimination.

He says the OMRS was introduced precisely to ensure that the most meritorious person was selected for the job and not because of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender or other prohibited grounds of discrimination.

Meanwhile Education Minister Rosy Akbar says their stance on the issue is clear.

Akbar told FBC News that the schools will continue their operation with the heads appointed by the Ministry.

She says should any organization not want to work with the Ministry appointed heads they can privatize their schools.

Akbar says the Ministry has to remain fair with other faith based organizations that are managing schools around the country.

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